Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Vox Blogoli 2.1 offering 

I don't have a subscription to The Atlantic, so I comment mostly on Hugh's quote from Jonathan Rauch and the conversation on his show yesterday. He's now posted the entire article (for which we should thank Rauch), and I have edited some of this after reading it and listening to the debate. But most of my points seem to still hold.
On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside.
Of course, there are other choices. One can choose to work quietly within the party to effect change slowly. One can run campaigns for ideas that lead to planks being built.
Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics.
Again, a false dichotomy. I think this is the sentence that offends: Either anti-abortion planks or violence. What on earth is the man thinking in writing this sentence? He now says he wasn't. But I think the slip is revelatory. Even if he believes that most religious conservatives would not be bombers, there are enough that it warrants mention. I'm sorry, but the mea culpa doesn't really suffice. As Hugh pointed out, Larry Summers will probably be pressed to hire more females for positions at Harvard, even if they are not the most qualified persons, to make amends for posing a reasonable point for critical discussion. What penance will Rauch serve? He'll probably argue "being on Hewitt's show." Not quite the same thing.
The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard.
I could not figure out the thought here when I read Hugh's excerpt. Is he actually justifying SDS and the Black Panthers and the SLA? Listening to Rauch (and thanks Steve for Replay Radio -- it's been a Godsend) I see where it might have come from now, but without the rest of the article this made no sense.
When Michael Moore receives a hero�s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.
I take Rauch to mean by this that the political process is best served by an adversarial position. But this means that the debate between right and left is apocalyptic, like a battle between ethnic groups. What Rauch sees in the Christian right is the Other; he sees those who are unlike him, below him, not just on the wrong side but with black hearts. I get that: It's what religious conservatives on American campuses feel every day.

But just as trying to defeat the Right rather than debate the Right on American campuses has hurt them, so too will the attempt to create the Battle for Middle Earth out of Campaign '08 hurt the American political system.